Ngāti Awa CEO encourages Māori to vote for Māori seats on council

By Taroi Black

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa CEO Leonie Simpson says voters may not see any benefit from Māori seats on the Whakatāne District Council, but says the seats allow iwi to be part of council decision-making.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa is one of seven iwi in the Whakatāne District encouraging Māori to vote.

Simpson says, “It’s important our dreams and aspirations are included in any local government decision making.”

The Council's Policy Committee has asked for feedback from Iwi, hapū and the community. For the first time, this could involve the establishment of three new Māori Wards at the Whakatāne District Council.

Yesterday, Whakatāne Mayor Tony Bonne told Te Kāea that Māori seats should be legislated into the Local Government Act. 

“Four years ago there was a referendum which wasn’t successful to establish Māori wards. At that time he was the mayor.”

But Leonie Simpson says now the biggest challenge for iwi is encouraging their people to vote.

“Voters may not see any benefit to them when they get out to vote. Thant’s what I see in them.”

Any feedback by iwi, hapū and the community can be submitted by 5pm, Friday, October 27.